Placing Youth in a Volunteer Framework

4 Apr 2016 | Articles

Placing Youth in a Volunteer Framework

Volunteering Auckland is faced with an encouraging challenge: it has more volunteers 18 years old and younger than it has voluntary organisations willing to place them. As a nonprofit that helps other nonprofits find and maximise a volunteer base, Volunteering Auckland wanted to discover what hinders and what might help organisations to effectively engage and retain youth volunteers.

Most research related to youth volunteerism is youth focused, finding ways to encourage youth to participate, pointing out the benefits they receive in terms of social capital, work experience, and personal achievement. But ‘Placing Youth in a Volunteer Framework’ looks at the relationship between youth and nonprofits from the organisational perspective, discovering the reasons why few organisation choose to accept youth volunteers, the challenges and prejudices, and proposing ways Volunteering Auckland can equip organisations to overcome them.

Even organisations that have vulnerable clients or unsafe environments may find tasks that youth are capable of. Examples from those who have both high-needs clients and a thriving core of young volunteers provide guidance for how that can be accomplished. For nonprofits that do not have the margin to invest in the staff needed to nurture a volunteer base, implementing strategic systems of training and supervision may enable them to still incorporate volunteers.

Some youth may not find a fit within an organisation, or wish to take more of their own initiative. Volunteering Auckland is also well placed to provide them with the tools to create their own community project and recruit other young people to pitch in, whether it is a one-off project or an initiative that participants wish to take further.

Volunteering Auckland engaged an Auckland University Masters student to assist with a research project to ascertain, from our research, what are the enablers and barriers for NGOs in engaging youth aged 13-18 years into their organisations as volunteers. The ‘Placing Youth in a Volunteer Framework’ research paper was the result.

Young people want to volunteer … we need to ensure we have the opportunities where they can contribute!

Research: ‘Placing Youth in a Volunteer Framework’ available from Volunteering Auckland

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